Connected construction: Building for the smart city of the future

Here are the four best reasons to construct a fully optimized, intelligent building for clients.

For buildings to adapt easily to new applications and technologies, the right information technology (IT) infrastructure must be in place. Connectivity is a given, but which software and hardware are required to leverage and take advantage of the investment? End-users increasingly ask architects and builders, “What can I accomplish with the latest smart technologies?” One of the keys to constructing a resilient, flexible smart facility is building in interdependence and interoperability between the layers of devices on an open platform. Using security cameras originally intended for a specific purpose and deploying them to address new challenges is one way buildings can remain open to new developments and applications.

Cost savings
These result from greater energy efficiencies built into the structure, more automation that reduces headcount, and savings resulting from optimizing processes like heating and cooling, lighting, and other functions that can be monitored using intelligent sensors and cameras. A good example of this is in critical infrastructure when a network security camera can be directed and zoomed in at a dial or gauge to verify a sensor is reading a pressure gauge, or to scan along a pipe to see whether it has a small rupture or a breach letting steam out. Network cameras can alleviate a shutdown if they capture an event and are programmed to send an alert. The data these cameras are gathering can be processed by the devices’ analytics to determine what is happening so as to send clean, actionable information back to the manager. This technology is improving by the day and can be a very strong value proposition when one is preventing the shutdown of a plant or sensitive infrastructure, which can cost millions of dollars per minute of downtime.

Architects and builders want to enable structures to quickly adapt to new technologies. While today’s sensors can identify how much energy is being used on a given day, tomorrow’s will be able to evaluate and forecast future energy needs, risks, and priorities for buildings across a city, and can allocate resources to optimize energy use across an entire grid. The capture and aggregation of data is important, but the actions taken as a result can positively enhance the occupant experience, optimize building and business processes, and improve the facility’s performance (along with feeding into the smart city model planners are now thinking of). It is important to ensure the building is constructed on a multi-purpose network footing, so everything is in place to accommodate additional data streams and new applications. For instance, in a multi-purpose network, temperature data can also serve as an input to a productivity application, or a network camera monitoring a room can adjust the HVAC setting as more people populate a room. Ultimately, the devices making up the Internet of Things (IoT) are all being positioned for the day when artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can make autonomous decisions and take the human element out of it entirely.

Whether the client has established sustainability as a core value in their own organization or not, the fact is that buildings will only increase in value if they have been built on sustainability principles backed by surveillance, IoT, and AI. The resilience of the built environment will be a major selling point in the future. In the author’s experiences, major builders are taking this into account and assume clients will want their building to withstand climate change and all it brings with it.


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